Opening night in the NBA -- time to play the games -- no more hype -- 3 games on tap. We preview all of them for you and we brought in Bruce Bowen to discuss x's and o's.
Here we go -- LeBron James' opener with Miami after seven seasons in Cleveland. Wade's first time with James and Chris Bosh as his Heat running mates. Shaquille O'Neal -- once a teammate to both Wade and James -- playing his first game in Celtics' colors. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett motivated by a Game 7 loss to the Lakers in last season's finals. Miami's new Big 3 vs. Boston's not-so-new Big 3. Oh, and the small fact that Wade and James were both ousted from the playoffs by Boston last spring -- defeats that helped along their decision to play with one another.
After the jump -- Suns vs. Blazers and Rockets vs. Lakers
The Phoenix Suns say their style won't change with Amare Stoudemire no longer serving as Steve Nash's favorite target underneath the basket. Without one of the league's more prolific post scorers, however, Phoenix's expectations might have taken a huge hit. The Suns acquired three small forwards -- 6-foot-10 Hedo Turkoglu, 6-9 Hakim Warrick and 6-8 Josh Childress -- in addition to re-signing 6-11, 3-point specialist Channing Frye. Portland has plenty of issues up front as well, but it's not for a lack of personnel. Injuries to the Trail Blazers' big men have been a seemingly annual occurrence the past few years, and Greg Oden (left knee) and Joel Przybilla (right knee) won't be available right away after going down just three weeks apart in December. Marcus Camby will start at center until either -- or both -- return, but Portland is thin behind him. The Blazers signed free agent Fabricio Oberto on Friday to replace Jeff Pendergraph, who tore his ACL in the preseason and was waived. Still intact, however, is Portland's own dangerous pick-and-roll combination of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and the Lakers will watch as the franchise's 16th championship banner is raised tonight before taking on Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets in the season opener. Bryant and the Lakers have good reason to be upbeat. They return nine players from their championship team, which defeated the Boston Celtics in seven games, while adding free agents Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff. One of the teams looking to challenge the Lakers in the West is Houston, which was busy after going 42-40 last season while missing the playoffs for the first time in four years. It should help that Yao, who has averaged 19.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in seven seasons, isn't expected to do it all. Aaron Brooks, the NBA's most improved player last season, is hoping for another big season after averaging 19.6 points and 5.3 assists, and Luis Scola is back after averaging 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds. The Rockets re-signed reserve point guard Kyle Lowry to join Brooks in the backcourt and acquired 7-foot Brad Miller to back up Yao.
The Associated Press and Stats LLC contributed to this report.